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Capital Camps seeks permit for conference center

July 18, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — A Capital Camps & Retreat Center official urged the Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors on Monday to approve a conditional-use permit for a new conference center.

David Phillips, Capital Camps’ president and CEO, told the board during a public hearing that the new center and its 42 overnight rooms would allow the camp to better accommodate adults whose organizations, churches, temples or schools host large-group events.

“This really upgrades us in our capacity to handle adult guests,” Phillips said.

To build a new retreat center, the camp off Pa. 16 in Rouzerville, Pa., needs to obtain a permit from the township because its land is zoned forest conservation. Phillips said the new facility would disturb five of the camp’s 267 acres.

Janet Schneider of Old Route 16 has expressed concerns to the township’s planning commission and supervisors about noise at the camp. She said the problem isn’t campers in the daytime, but rather adults using amplified noise until 11 or 11:30 p.m.

“I really think when you bring in additional people, you have additional noise. ... I have been to concerts that don’t have that much amplification,” Schneider said Monday night.

Phillips said Capital Camps today can accommodate 300 to 400 people for retreats or conferences. He said that number wouldn’t necessarily increase with the new center, as the intent is to move adult, overnight guests out of cabins and into that building.

Rental contracts require guests to behave and keep noise reasonable, Phillips said.

“We do control the sound levels,” he said.

Schneider and Phillips said they met with Washington Township Police Chief Barry Keller in 2002 to try to settle their issues. Schneider said she still has needed to call the police about noise in the years since then. Phillips said the camp has never been cited or fined.

Township Manager Mike Christopher said the supervisors would not make their decision on the conditional-use issue until they receive a recommendation from the Washington Township Planning Commission. The planners tabled the matter at their July 11 meeting.

The three-story retreat center would be built into the side of a hill.

Phillips said his nonprofit organization, which employs about a dozen people year-round at the site and additional people seasonally, spends $1.3 million a year in the community.

“We deliberately purchase locally when possible,” he said.

Representatives of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., Waynesboro Industrial Development Corp. and Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the expansion.

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